• Tories are incoherent on 'regional social licence'

    Jim Emberger,Commentary, Telegraph Journal   September 13, 2018

    The freshly released Progressive Conservatives platform contains only a single sentence on shale gas, and leaves "regional social license" – mooted by leader Blaine Higgs in April – entirely unexplained.

    Even without adequate detail in the platform, the very concept is a clear case of putting the cart before the horse.

    The shale gas moratorium’s first condition sensibly dictates that, before social license can be granted, citizens must receive “clear and credible information about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on public health, the environment and water.”

    As I have documented in previous articles, the “clear and credible evidence” from science and public health studies, court cases, journalistic investigations and government regulatory actions reveal shale gas impacts including:
    • A host of serious diseases affecting those living near gas wells, and especially the unborn. 
    • Water contamination from every aspect of industry activity.
    • Leaking methane from gas infrastructure, making it a leading contributor to climate change.
    • Toxic wastewater created by fracking, with no safe way of disposal.
    • Universally inadequate regulations and oversight, plus the precarious financial state of the industry, means that these threats continue unabated.
    As the Progressive Conservatives haven’t provided the public with any credible evidence that these risks have been addressed, how can they ask anyone for social license?

    Meanwhile, extensive government reviews of shale gas elsewhere have almost unanimously led to bans or moratoriums. These include Quebec, Canada’s Maritime Provinces, 19 of the 25 countries of the European Union, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and several U.S. and Australian states. Mexico, a major fossil fuel producer, is banning fracking.

    In many U.S. states that launched the shale industry before conducting public reviews, hundreds of cities and counties have passed resolutions restricting fracking.

    Before New Brunswick's last election, over 70 municipalities and dozens of medical, public health, religious, community, environmental and indigenous groups called for a moratorium – including Mr. Higgs’ community of Quispamsis.

    The PCs apparently are aware of this widespread public opposition, and attempt to sidestep it by claiming that fracking will be limited to Sussex and Albert County, because those localities want it.

    Yet the municipality of Sussex Corner supported the moratorium, as did citizen groups in the nearby agricultural area of Cornhill, and in Penobsquis, where existing gas wells are located.

    In Albert County, the municipalities of Hillsborough and Alma supported the moratorium, as did the neighboring city of Moncton. Citizen groups – e.g. the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance, Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County, and the Chepoudy Communities Revitalization Committee – have reaffirmed their support for the moratorium.

    So who will grant "social license," and how is "regional" defined? The PC platform contains nary a clue.

    Do businessmen reaping financial benefits, but living away from the wells, get the same vote as pregnant mothers living next to gas wells, who – willingly or not – will assume greater health risks?

    Airborne chemical pollution affects those with asthma and respiratory problems up to hundreds of kilometres away. Likewise, waterborne contaminants can travel the length of whatever waterways they enter. How far downstream and downwind is the regional line drawn for health and environmental risks? 

    Increased health care and road repair costs have been documented everywhere a shale gas industry exists, as have the costs of dealing with abandoned wells. These financial risks and costs will be borne by all the taxpayers of New Brunswick.

    Leaking methane gas damages the climate for everyone.

    These widespread risks to health and environment from fracking have been proven. Living on one side of some arbitrary regional line doesn’t grant the right to accept those risks for everyone.

    The ethics of medical research require that every individual give their informed consent to be a ‘guinea pig’ before being exposed to toxic, carcinogenic or untested chemicals. Fracking, which uses hundreds of such chemicals, is a massive uncontrolled experiment and should require no less a standard.

    And yet, the PCs are running with the slogan that they will restore trust. 

    Mr. Higgs recently wrote a commentary in this newspaper on his plans to fight climate change ("A carbon plan, not a carbon tax," Aug. 18, A11). It did not once mention his policy on shale gas. Does he know the gas industry is a major contributor to climate change?

    Also unaddressed is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The rapid depletion of shale gas wells means the industry must continually drill new wells. Thus, a "regional" industry won’t stay regional for long. 

    The PCs have not discussed these concerns, or any of the risks catalogued above. Their platform does not even contain the words "shale," "fracking," or "moratorium." Doesn’t the path to trust demand a demonstration that one understands and can discuss the concerns now, before the election?

    If facts don’t support a policy, the policy must change. Not discussing the facts won’t build trust.

    Canada’s Dr. John Cherry, one of the world’s foremost experts on groundwater contamination, testified before our Commission on Hydrofracturing, noting, “It is hard to make the case for social license if you have no scientific proof of safety.” These are words the PCs, and indeed all New Brunswickers, need to heed.

    Jim Emberger is spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance.

  • Voice of the People Tour kick-off

    Delta Hotel Fredericton - March 20 2014

    Who are we?Firstly, the Voice of the People Tour is being organized by concerned citizens through various community organizations: the Council of Canadians, the New Brunswick Anti Shale Gas Alliance, the Fredericton District Labour Council and Unifor. We are working together to bring these important issues to the people in our communities.

    The Voice of the People Tour will be coming to communities in every corner of the province. We want to hear your voice!

    The purpose of our tour is to provide public education about shale gas and clean energy.


    We will be asking the people in our communities:


    • • Do we know everything we need to about shale gas?
    • • Is shale gas the only way to create jobs?
    • • What do you want in your backyard?
    The town hall meetings will provide an overview of scientific evidence of the effects of shale gas development, specifically hydraulic fracturing of shale gas. We also want to discuss possible alternatives to shale gas development, namely clean energy and clean jobs.

    Our concerns are broadly shared. We are here today in solidarity with many other organizations who have given their endorsement to the Voice of the People Tour.Why? Because they too are concerned with the dangers of shale gas and the lack of consultation with the people.  


    These organizations are:

    CUPE
    Unifor
    Fredericton and District Labour Council
    The New Brunswick Federation of Labour
    New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance
    Council of Canadians
    Conservation Council of New Brunswick
    The National Farmers Union
    And more...

    The tour will highlight why so many organizations and people are against shale gas, including 130 New Brunswick municipalities, community organizations, and professional associations. Most recently, many labour unions have called for a Provincial/national moratorium on shale gas development.

    Why have the citizens organized this tour? Because we believe that the peoples' voice is vital in democracy. Over the past 4 years there has been little to no consultation or public meetings initiated by the government, nor by industry. So, people are organizing themselves. Also, there has been no consultation with the First Peoples of this land.

    In addition, the Government of New Brunswick has failed to provide the public with peer reviewed scientific evidence of the harmful effects of shale gas fracking, and shale gas development. The people are not getting the information they need.

    The Premier would have us believe that shale gas is the only way to create jobs in this Province. We know this is not true. In fact, according to Blue-Green Canada, for the same investment there are seven times more jobs created with clean energy and building efficiency than with the oil and gas industry.

    For example, The 2013 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry report showed that there were double the number of clean energy workers compared with the number of natural gas workers in neighbouring shale gas state of Pennsylvania. 80,000 jobs were created in the clean energy versus 40,000 jobs in the natural gas sector.

    Clean jobs and green energy are possible and more financially viable and long term. Shale gas jobs disappear once the wells are drilled.

    It makes more sense for New Brunswick to invest in clean energy alternatives instead of shale gas. It's safer and creates more jobs. To do otherwise would be a lost opportunity for our Province.

    We believe the people will be the problem solvers in this tour.

    The people have this responsibility.
     

    Signed - 
    The Voice of the People Coalition

    voiceofthepeopletour@gmail.com


     

  • VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR: Red Dot Poll Results for Sussex NB and area May 8 2014


    1)  NB's democratic deficit is stifling our ability to have an effective public voice to counter government and industry control

    2)  Something needs to be done about corporate media control in NB

    3)  We need better transparency about what has been happening in Penobsquis

    4)  (Tie)
         - Stop subsidizing large corporations
         - Regulations will not protect us

    5)  NB needs more emphasis on sustainable industry incentives

    6)  Proportional representation is needed for electoral reform

    7)  (Tie)
        - Community economic development investment funds and other investment tools are needed to support local community development
        - Concern for lack of accurate information and industry truth

    8) Reduce toxins - Take NB out of a sacrifice zone 
  •     VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR: Red Dot Poll Results Summary for St. Stephen and area, May 1, 2014


    1)  Stop (moratorium or ban) shale gas in NB to protect our water and 7 generations

    2)  Protect our aquifers

    3)  Take corporations out of politics

    4)  (Tie)

    -      We need value-added here in NB, e.g. wood products

    -      Allow hemp industry in NB

    5)  (Tie)

    -      NB must provide a complete set of tools to allow citizens, communities and co-ops, farmers, etc. to invest in local energy projects

    -      Community economic development investment funds

    -      Good feed-in tariff rate

    -      Investment tax credits for co-ops

    -      Begin community discussions on creating renewable energy opportunities

    6)  (Tie)

    -      Stop forest agreement with Irving. We need to get our crown forests back

    -      Change the way we vote: Kick out the Liberals and PC’s and vote in other party candidates

    -      Focus on renewable energy and our own communities. We need to take care of ourselves and do it sustainably. e.g. local food and local forestry


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